A very powerful letter to the editor in today’s Buffalo News from Bill Gettman, Norther Rivers CEO and MHANYS Vice Chair, related to the impact of COVID for direct care workers. During this pandemic, these are the essential workers saving the lives of all New Yorkers. As we know before COVID, this workforce was incredibly underpaid and now in the midst of this crisis, this really shines the light on the importance of this workforce.
[BN] the Spotlight – The Buffalo News]
Letter: Include hazard pay for front-line workers By
Published May 18, 2020
The COVID-19 crisis has brought home the vital importance of front-line direct care workers who staff hospitals, nursing homes, services for children and people with disabilities, day care centers, adult homes, vocational and day programs of various types and many others. These are the staff who cannot stay home and keep themselves safe not only because the people they serve absolutely depend on their availability but also because they cannot afford not to work. The Covid-19 crisis further documents and underscores the need for a robust, dedicated and talented front-line workforce.
Consider that 60 percent of front-line workforce qualifies for public assistance and the average annual pay for human services workers ranges from $27,000 in our region and $29,600 in New York City. Such pay is only about 40 percent of the average for all workers, and falls far short of the income needed to meet a family budget. Human services workers are overwhelmingly women (over 80 percent) and heavily women of color (44 percent of the total). They are well-educated – 41 percent have a four-year college degree and another 25 percent have an associates’ degree or some college – and most work full-time or close to full-time schedules. In short, the sector is an economic engine and vital first responders. The COVID-19 pandemic has had an incredible and long-lasting impact upon our families, communities, and economic stability. As the federal government prepares an additional stimulus package, hazard pay financial compensation must be included for the individuals that get up every day, leave their families, and provide direct services to the neediest, at risk, and health compromised individuals.
William T. Gettman, Jr.
Chief Executive Officer
Northern Rivers Family of Services
60 Academy Road | Albany, NY 12208